Tuesday 24 October 2017

This Man's Life: The archangel Gabriel Byrne's good news reminds me of the past

Gabriel Byrne:
Gabriel Byrne: "one of the great, and the most decent, the most loyal and the most compassionate Irish men on terra firma". Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

There's an old Irish saying: "A son is a son till he takes him a wife, a daughter is a daughter all of her life." Gabriel Byrne and his wife Hannah Beth King had a baby girl last month. And that little girl is in for a real treat.

Her dad is not only one of the great Irish actors of his, or any, generation - with critically acclaimed performances in The Usual Suspects, Miller's Crossing and Smilla's Sense of Snow to name a few. But, much more importantly, her dad is also one of the great, and the most decent, the most loyal and the most compassionate Irish men on terra firma. He has the soul of a radical Celtic poet inside all that Brandoesque broodiness.

Some people can read Finnegans Wake and come away thinking it's a simple love story. Others can read the ingredients on a box of bran flakes and unlock the secrets of the universe. Byrne is a mixture of the two. He reminds me of what Daniel Day Lewis was getting at when he told The New Yorker magazine in 1992 in a profile entitled "An actor from the shadows": "If I weren't allowed this outlet, there wouldn't be a place for me in society."

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